I am 67 and have worked both in the health service and finance sector as a personnel manager. My last working years were spent running a business concentrating on the recruitment and assessment of managerial staff in the finance sector.
My husband died nearly two years ago and I had spent 2 years caring for him as his heart disease gradually overtook the developments in medical science. At one time we had carers coming in, and I had been through a similar process with my mother who was blind and had dementia. Recognising the deficiencies in having carers to look after you, I did not want to be subject to the vagaries of external carers with no one in my corner to fight the battles. As we did not have children and I am an only child, I would be relying on cousins or friends who may not live locally to pick up the pieces when the carers didn't materialise. I didn't consider this a viable option.
I have one or two existing health problems which mean that I will need care at some time in the future, so I was looking to make one move from a 5 bedroom house at the bottom of a lane to an apartment where I had no garden or external maintenance. I was also looking for somewhere with some social activity and especially where I could swim, the most beneficial activity for helping my back problems.
I had lived in a small village outside Witney in my early working life, and after my marriage and our subsequent move from Bolton to Upton, between Aylesbury and Thame, we often visited Witney and felt that it still resembled a market town but with all the benefits of branches of the big stores, and free parking! On the advice of one of the Richmond Witney village advisers, I went to look at Richmond Letcombe Regis, to look at the general standard and range of facilities, and was so impressed, that I came home and reserved an apartment straight away. I'd never bought 'off-plan' before but was so convinced this was right for me, I have never had a moments hesitation or regret.
I am probably considered a bit young for this step but calculating the costs of moving house, I couldn't see the logic of making two moves over the next 10 - 20 years. (You can tell that my late husband was a Bank Manager and I worked in the finance industry for many years). Having now made the move, I am exceedingly glad that I didn't leave it until I was any older. When you are on your own without close family to help, it is an exhausting process. The process of downsizing is also exhausting both physically and emotionally because of having to get rid of things that have meant a lot in the past - when I sold my big dining table, my thoughts were of all the happy times we had spent with friends round it. But, you have to face reality - you can't hang on to everything because of the sentimental attachments.
Now I am beginning a new stage of my life. My main interests are dressmaking and fabric decoration, and I am now able to have a room and hopefully, the time to devote more of my energies to that. I also enjoy travel, particularly to the Far East, but have to take the plunge into doing that as a single person rather than as a couple, which will be very difficult. I am a keen follower of cricket and am considering joining a tour which includes Test Match tickets when England next play in Australia or New Zealand. Whether I'm quite Barmy Army material, I have my doubts?
For the first time in many years I have the time to catch up with friends and whereas in the house I always felt as though I was neglecting some job or other if I went out, now I can just go and come back to an apartment which is very large but not needing the same amount of my time as the house. I'm sure in time, my knees will appreciate the lack of stairs!
Having been in Richmond Witney for just over a month, I feel thoroughly relaxed and comfortable with my decision and the surroundings. From living at the bottom of a lane and have no passing traffic to living on a fairly busy road has been easier than I expected. Being able to see passing activity is a joy and makes me feel less isolated than I was. Having someone always on call is also very comforting. The prospect of being able to go on holiday and not having to cope with the garden when you return, or any problems with the house whilst you've been away, is worth a lot.